It's here again--that one-of-a kind national holiday that runs the gamut of emotions from sadness to gladness, from tears to laughter.
Once again, Memorial Day will have us pausing for somber remembrance, before launching us lightheartedly into the long-awaited summer season.
The weekend agenda in Washington, D.C. headlines Memorial Day 2013. Such has been the case since Memorial Day became a national holiday in 1967.
This Sunday evening, the National Symphony Orchestra will be joined by dignitaries and celebrities for The National Memorial Day Concert on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol.
On Memorial Day morning, the annual wreath-laying ceremony will be observed at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, where American flags have been placed on 250,000 graves. In the afternoon, the mood swings from commemorative to celebratory as the traditional Memorial Day parade wends its way through the heart of the nation's Capitol.
And meanwhile, in the Florida Keys,, what happens this weekend will be typical of Memorial Day activities in cities and towns elsewhere around the country.
On Monday morning, an entourage from American Legion Post 28 in Key West will make the ten-mile trek for services at the cemetery on Big Coppitt Key. Then it's back to the post for hot dogs and hamburgers, and perhaps, for some, a brew or two.
For many folks, this long holiday weekend will be bittersweet. There's that certain sadness that accompanies the remembrance of fallen heroes, as well as other family members and friends we miss so very much.
But then there's the lighter side to this holiday. It is the unofficial beginning of summer, and a time for countless gatherings. Some will go by the name BBQ, while others will be called a picnic or a cookout.
Up north, it's an opportunity to mix and mingle with family, friends and neighbors after a long winter of mostly indoor activities. Down south and in the southwest desert area, it's a time for getting together before blast furnace heat and sweltering humidity make being outside almost unbearable.
Memorial Day is for giving thought to those who are gone, while giving time to those still with us.